Review: The Sentinels of Andersonville

The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot

Tyndale House, 2014.  Hardcover, 348 pages.Cover Sentinels of Andersonville

In this novel by Tracy Groot, inhuman acts and their impacts are shown. Using fiction to tell a story, Groot shows how the Andersonville Prison in Civil War Georgia had horrific conditions and how most Southerners had the mindset mistreating the prisoners was okay. That said, a small group of citizens protested the conditions and did what they had to in order to help. Led by Violet Stiles, Dance Pickett, and Emery Jones, the Friends of the Andersonville Prison is formed to find ways to assist the imprisoned after the founders witnessed the aristocracies firsthand. Dance and Emery are sentinels at prison, while Violet’s father worked in the prison hospital. In addition to this story line, there is a second key plot. On his way to Andersonville, Emery escorted and befriended a Union prisoner named Lew Gann and made an oath to find a way to rescue Lew. Emery enlists Dance’s help towards this end after plans go awry. In both plots, Violet’s youngest sister, Posey, plays a key role only known to her.

Reading about the conditions in Andersonville reminded me of the conditions the European Jews faced in the concentration camps. In both cases, food was nearly nonexistent, living conditions were pitiful and unsanitary (sadly most in Andersonville lacked any shelter) , and the local population blamed the prisoners for their woes. However, those that took a stand show another side to the story; one of placing good before evil and doing was needed to be done to in the face of persecution from their townsfolk. Being inspirational fiction, I think it is safe to say it is a twist on the Good Samaritan story. In all, I was happy with this book and thought it was well-written.

Do you think you’ll give this title a try?  Do you know of any other fiction stories that discuss Andersonville or other prisoner of war camps during the Civil War?

I received the copy I reviewed via a Goodreads’ First Reads Giveaway back in 2014.

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